Weekday News Wrap: Tuesday, March 27, 2012

by An Hertogen

  • Amnesty International reports that fewer nations are applying the death penalty, but that those who do are making more use of it. The increase is particularly noticeable in the Middle East.
  • Amnesty International urges EU states to renew their commitment to examine their involvement in CIA secret flights
  • Associated Press reports that the White House offered key concessions, such as advance notice and limits on the type of targets, to Pakistani intelligence officials to save the CIA’s drone programme
  • The US and Australia are reportedly considering to use Australia’s Cocos Islands territory as a staging point for manned surveillance and drone flights over the South China Sea.
  • The US wants to build regional missile defense shields in Asia and the Middle East.
  • Turkey is considering establishing buffer zones on Syrian territory to deal with the influx of Syrian refugees and to protect its Southern border.
  • Meanwhile, diplomatic efforts on the Syrian situation continue. Kofi Annan, in his capacity as UN-Arab League Special Envoy, has visited Moscow and Beijing to discuss a six-point plan to end the violence. US Secretary of State Clinton will be in Riyadh and Istanbul this weekend for discussions. Syria is also on the agenda of this week’s Arab League Summit in Baghdad, which is however unlikely to push for Assad’s resignation.
  • The Obama administration will unveil standards for new power plants, setting the maximum allowed amount of GHG emissions per megawatt hours produced.
  • Citing security concerns, Australia has banned Chinese Huawei from bidding on contracts related to the building of the Australian National Broadband Network. Huawei rejects the fears of cyber warfare.
  • On a tour of Asia, the Canadian Prime Minister opened up negotiations on a free trade agreement with Japan. If successful, the US would find itself in a situation where its neighbours have an FTA with Japan, with possible ramifications for the auto industry, as discussed by Forbes.
  • Mexico will defend the WTO Panel COOL decision, which the US decided to appeal yesterday.

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